Objectives: The luminous plasma generated during laser ablation of dental tissue and dental materials has been analyzed to determine qualitative and quantitative elemental composition. Background Data: The use of pulsed lasers for controlled material ablation now is frequently suggested as an alternative to mechanical drilling for the removal of caries and in tooth modification. Spectral analysis of the ablated plasma can be exploited to monitor precisely the laser drilling process in vivo and in real time. Methods: Teeth samples and dental materials were ablated using pulses from a Nd:YAG laser. The line positions and intensities in the spectra, recorded in real time, were used to identify elements and to determine their relative concentrations. Results: From the spectra of horizontally and vertically cut tooth slices, profiles of elemental distribution were determined; these were used in a range of monitoring applications. We showed that the transition from caries to healthy tooth material could be identified through the decrease in calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) concentrations, whereas nonmineralizing elements and organic materials increased in concentration. We also could relate the spatial distribution of elements to their migration or accumulation over time, for example, the migration of aluminium (Al) from dental restorative materials to the tooth matrix. Conclusions: The plasma existing during laser ablation (in vitro/in vivo) can be analyzed spectrally in real time. From the spectra, one can pinpoint high/low levels of element concentrations within the tooth matrix. Thus, this analysis could be used to monitor the ablation of material during laser dental treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering